NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Part 8: Accepting a treatment plan
You may have already lost some nights of sleep. This
is common. The stress of learning that you have cancer
and deciding a treatment plan takes its toll. You may
lose more sleep while waiting to have treatment and
during recovery. Getting less sleep can affect your mood,
conversations, and ability to do things. If possible, allow
yourself to rest, let people do things for you, and talk with
your doctor about sleep medication. Behavioral sleep
medicine—a type of talk therapy—may also help.
Feelings of anxiety and depression are common among
patients with cancer. You may feel anxious before testing
and while waiting for the results. Likewise, you may have
a passing depression during a hard part of treatment.
Feeling distressed may be a minor problem or it may be
more serious. Serious or not, tell your treatment team so
that you can get help if needed. Help can include
support groups, talk therapy, or medication. Some
people also feel better by exercising, talking with loved
ones, or relaxing. Your treatment team has information
to help you.
Having cancer may cause you to feel helpless, fearful,
alone, or overwhelmed. There are ways to manage this
stress. At your cancer center, cancer navigators, social
workers, and other experts can help. There may also be
helpful community resources, such as support groups
and wellness centers.
Some people blame themselves for getting cancer.
However, what causes lung cancer is unknown. Smoking
does increase the chances of getting lung cancer, but
about 18 out of 100 patients with lung cancer weren’t
Becoming a “cancer patient”
Hearing “you have cancer” is likely to be life-changing.
Some challenges may include managing doctor visits,
figuring out how to care for your kids, missing work,
and feeling a loss of control. Some people try to keep
their life as normal as they can. Others change their
life a lot. However, many cancer survivors will tell you
that during the active treatment period, being a patient
is your job. It’s a job that requires much time and
energy. This can be hard.
Use your strengths, talents, and resources to help
you cope. Maintain warm relationships with family and
friends. Accept the support offered to you and reach
out for more help if you need it. Most people would be
happy to hear what you need. Make a list for them of
things that would help you. If you are a person of faith,
your personal beliefs and faith community can help.
There are also professionals in mental health, social
work, and pastoral services who are able to assist you.
You can also start attending support groups to receive
help from other cancer survivors.